John takes great care to present poor Nicodemus as a bit thick. Learned for sure. But trapped by his letter-of-the-law literalism and unable to recognize a good metaphor if he tripped over one in a well-lit room. I feel sorry for the poor guy.
The name just oozes wisdom and learning. Perhaps I’m being unduly influenced by the classic Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and the animated film based upon it The Secret of NIMH. Yet still. Learning usually opens the imagination to a certain extent. Or at least makes one aware of it.
John uses Nicodemus the same way as Mark uses the disciples, not as well-rounded characters in a realistic drama (realism in literature doesn’t come round for another 1800 years or so) but as cannon fodder (canon fodder?) in a battle of rhetoric. The point being similar to Hamlet’s, there are more things in heaven and on earth than can be dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.
In the spiritual life, logic, reason, and science can take us only so far. When reason is being reasonable it sees it and doing so leaves us, like Vergil, in the loving care of Beatrice, herald of divine grace.
Like Nicodemus there is something sad about this. The work of the Baptist was to prepare the way for another. A successful prophet works himself out of a job.
Reminds me of Jonah who preached against Nineveh so well that Nineveh repented and the hand of judgment passed over the people. I wonder if the Baptist felt a similar resentment and regret to that which Jonah felt.